Representation in Ireland

Share of Irish bathing waters meeting EU's "excellent" standard below EU average


Child swimming
Only 71% of Irish bathing waters monitored last year met the European Union's highest and most stringent "excellent" standard for water cleanliness compared to an EU average of just over 85%, according to the latest annual European bathing water quality report.

In four EU countries (Cyprus, Malta, Austria and Greece) 95% or more of bathing sites were found to have excellent water quality.


The report also showed that the share of sites in Ireland classified as poor fell compared to the previous year (from 4.9% to 3.4%) but it was still well above the EU average of 1.3% and joint highest in the EU along with The Netherlands.

In total, 145 bathing water sites (136 coastal and 9 inland) were examined in Ireland with 103 (71%) classified as excellent, 22 (15.2%) as good, 12 (8.3%) as sufficient and 5 (3.4%) as poor. Three sites were not classified.


The contamination of water by faecal bacteria continues to pose a risk to human health, especially if it is found at bathing water sites. Swimming at contaminated beaches or lakes can result in illness. The major sources of pollution are sewage and water draining from farms and farmland. Such pollution increases during heavy rains and floods due to sewage overflow and polluted drainage water being washed into rivers and seas.

All EU Member States, plus Albania and Switzerland, monitor their bathing sites according to the provisions of the EU's Bathing Water Directive. The assessment of the bathing water quality under the Bathing Water Directive makes use of the values of two microbiological parameters: Intestinal enterococci and Escherichia coli. Bathing water quality is classified, depending on the levels of faecal bacteria detected, as 'excellent', 'good', 'sufficient' or 'poor', Where water is classified as 'poor', Member States should take measures such as banning bathing or advising against it, providing information to the public, and taking suitable corrective actions.

Further information

The full Ireland report can be found here.

Commission press release - Over 85% of European bathing sites rated as excellent for water quality

Interactive map on performance of each bathing site